Bronte (St Marys, NSW)
Bronte, the two-storied house on the corner of King and Gidley Streets, was once the home of James Bennett of the famous firm of ‘G and J Bennett’, wheelwrights and waggon builders of St Marys. The waggons produced by the Bennett firm gained a national reputation for quality in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s.
Completed in 1889, the house was designed by architect Mr W. Sykes and was built by local St Marys builder, Joseph Sainsbury. Classified in 1981 by the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the house was described in the application as ” a fine and substantial Victorian Gothic/Italianate mansion of brick which is rendered on the facade, and painted, with rusticated stone quoins. The gabled and jerkinhead roof is of corrugated iron and has three large and elaborate chimneys with several pots each. The eaves of the bay feature elaborate wooden barge boards and finial and a stucco medallion, while the veranda has a bullnosed roof and intricate cast iron work. The front door, with sidelights and transom lights, is original and intact, as are the french windows on the upper storeys and the other windows”.
A contemporary description of Bronte, appearing in the ‘Nepean Times’ newspaper of 14 September, 1889, gives some interesting details of its features just after its completion:
“The first object which attracts the attention of anyone entering St Marys from Penrith is a fine house which has just been erected by Mr James Bennett. The house stands in a fine piece of ground over three acres in extent. On approaching the building one is struck with the beautiful finish and workmanship shown in both design and execution. The building is of brick on concrete foundation with iron roof, and contains six rooms on the ground floor and five (including bathroom) upstairs …
The house passed out of the Bennett family many years ago. It has since been used as a private residence, a guest house (during World War II), and extensively renovated and operated as a café (1993). The house is currently a child and family centre, run by Mission Australia (2008).
Mimosa (St Marys, NSW)
Pages Road, St Marys
Situated at the corner of Putland Street and Pages Road, St, Marys, the two-storied house Mimosa stands today as one of the most elegant and historic houses of the area.
Former owner, Dr David Chandler restored the house to its former glory. The house was originally built for St Marys tannery owner and businessman, Andrew Thompson.
Completed in 1894, it was designed and built by local building contractor Joseph Sainsbury. According to a report in the Nepean Times newspaper at the time of its completion, Mimosa was considered to be “without a doubt, the costliest building in the Nepean district”. The building created considerable interest at the time, the local newspaper making frequent references to its progress. Finally, in the first issue of 1895, the Nepean Times reported that the Thompson family has shifted into their new home. The house was at first lit by acetylene gas, chosen by Andrew Thompson in preference to electricity as being the most economic. Some of the original gas fittings still remain a feature of its beautiful restored house. This fine example of late-Victorian architecture was classified by the National Trust in October, 1980.
Mamre (St Marys/Orchard Hills, NSW)
Marsden’s grandson, Rev. Thomas Hassall, describing “Mamre” as he knew it in his book In Old Australia (Brisbane, 1902) noted that: “The house was a two-storey brick building, with a good gravel drive in front. Beyond, several hundred yards, was a splendid orchard of twenty acres. The fruits surpassed any that I have seen these forty years. The grapes, chiefly muscatel, were very fine. Peaches, apples, pears, oranges, apricots and nectarines, were in abundance. Supplies were constantly sent to Sydney, in the season, in waggon-loads, and sold well. Large crops of wheat and oated hay were produced on the farm. The horses bred at ‘Mamre’ were very good and sold at high prices. The farm and orchard were worked by assigned servants numbering, I should say, from 20 to 30 hands.”
ORIGINAL OWNER: Rev. Samuel Marsden (1765-1838)
ORIGIN OF NAME: Named by Marsden from the Old Testament, Genesis 13, Verse 18: “Then Abram removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron.” By the end of 1794, Marsden had purchased 128 acres at South Creek near St. Marys. In 1804, Marsden was granted an extra 1,030 acre in the same location. On this grant Marsden was to build the house “Mamre”. An article in the “Nepean Times” newspaper, 19th July, 1924 (p.2) suggests that some sort of building on “Mamre” was used as a wool store in the very early 1800’s. It is thought that the original building was intended to be a wool store, but upon partial completion, it was turned into a residence. Although the actual date of completion is not certain, the National Trust suggests that the building that we now know as “Mamre” was built somewhere between 1830-1840.
DESCRIPTION OF HOUSE: “Mamre” is a two-storeyed, stuccoed-sandstone and brick farmhouse. The house is rectangular with a central stairhall and has 11 main rooms. There is also a single storey kitchen wing. The house has cedar-framed windows and shutters. The verandah around three sides of the house are stone-flagged. Timber columns hold the hipped iron roofs, under which are the original shingles.
OWNERSHIP HISTORY: When Marsden died in 1838 he left the house to his son Charles. Charles sold it to Richard Rouse in 1840. Rouse then gave “Mamre” to his daughter Elizabeth Henrietta when she married the Hon. Robert Fitzgerald of Windsor in 1841. It remained in the Fitzgerald family until bought by the Department of Planning and Environment in 1976.